Welcome fight Enthusiasts to UFC LV34. Yesterday my friends at the VSiN Network were in town promoting DraftKings new venture into Arizona. Their particular HQ will be on the grounds of the TPC Scottsdale which is a world class gold course and facility.
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My article from ‘Point Spread Weekly’ is below followed by final releases and comments. FYI the releases made yesterday on ‘My Guys in the Desert’ program are in fact the same final releases as today (a few of the prices may reflect yesterday’s lines)….we just have a brief description below…Good Luck.
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Originally published 8-18 VSiN’s Point Spread Weekly
This week’s UFC Las Vegas 34 offers fight Enthusiasts a fourteen-fight slate which is riddled with underrated match-ups between athlete’s ranging from 135lb. woman’s bantamweight to 265lb. men’s heavyweight with everything sprinkled in between.
It’s been a couple weeks since the last UFC event where we handicapped Michael Chiesa to enter the cage and offer us his best performance. Instead, Chiesa folded and was submitted in the first round by Vicente Luque. I strive to uncover fighters prepared to offer their absolute best effort come the sound of the opening bell and while I’ve had success many times with that approach sometimes it takes the form of a terrible performance. Both Chiesa and I need to come back stronger, more focused and better prepared.
Insight the Octagon 2021: 19-14 +7.68u
Jared Cannonier -160 vs. Kelvin Gastelum +140 Middleweight (185lbs.) main event
Ninth ranked middleweight and Arizona native Kelvin Gastelum is the prototypical ‘don’t judge the book by the cover’ fighter. Physically he appears more plumber than power puncher so it’s important NOT to measure Gastelum’s game by how he looks physically. He’s a wrestling-based southpaw with formidable boxing skills and a black belt in 10th planet Ju-Jitsu.
One of Gastelum’s biggest challenges in this fight is to prove to himself and the MMA word that despite him losing four of his last five bouts the ex-middleweight challenger still has the skills and desire to vie with the elite of the division. Gastelum will enter the octagon desperate for a win which makes him extremely dangerous.
Another hurdle he must overcome is how he approaches this bout. Gastelum is undersized as a middleweight as he is unable to make the welterweight 170lb. limit. In fact, on occasion he even tussles to make the 185lbs. middleweight limit. This reflects on his conditioning and ethic behind the scenes and during camp as I handicap.
If Gastelum is to employ his wrestling in this fight then he’ll need to arrive fit because wrestling takes a tremendous toll on one’s cardio. Honestly, I question whether Gastelum has three rounds of wrestling in him let along five based on past performances and current form.
What Gastelum will want to encourage in the smaller cage at the APEX is a fight that takes place in the pocket as his best path to victory is to engage any willing opponent for a throwdown. This is when he is his most dangerous.
Cannonier who trains at Phoenix’s the MMALab is ranked third in the division, he started his career as a Heavyweight, then Light Heavyweight has now found a home at Middleweight. He’s fared quite well at this weight class and he enters this bout off a championship loss to title holder Robert Whittaker where he broke his arm early in the bout and lost a unanimous decision.
Cannonier’s explosion, power and striking are precision based and destructive at middleweight and he’ll hold advantage in athleticism and footwork which is the key to this bout. What most overlook is Cannonier’s underrated BJJ/wrestling/ground game, something he’s been grinding on tirelessly in the gym in preparation of this bout. I don’t believe Gastelum will be able to take Cannonier down and keep him down which will allow most of this fight to take place standing.
Cannonier’s been cracked by much larger men than Gastelum and while Gastelum’s strikes pack power, it’s nothing the larger, longer switch stance Cannonier has not already experienced. Cannonier will choose to remain at distance while not engaging Gastelum ‘in the pocket’ as he is aware that’s his opponents’ sole path to victory.
In this fight Gastelum may well try to use his wrestling and try to gain advantage over Cannonier by getting this bout to the mat. It’s my judgement that he’ll not have success and the energy he uses to experiment with his wrestling will likely sap his cardio leaving him potentially exposed in the later rounds.
Gastelum wants to and will need to strike with Cannonier and in order to accomplish that he’ll have to overcome the analytical advantages that Cannonier’s height, length and size provide him and the athletic advantages of speed, quickness and movement Cannonier possesses.
In a striking battle Gastelum will be most dangerous early and from inside position. Should he experiment with take down attempts he’ll learn quickly that he is in the octagon against a fighter with the mental discipline to commit to a plan then execute said plan and that plan involves keeping this fight upright and at distance.
Cannonier opened -200 for this bout.
Cannonier -160 leg one open parlay to be filled on a later card.
Total for this fight: 4.5Rds. Under -115
Mark O. Madsen -160 vs. Clay Guida +140 Lightweight (155lbs.) co main event
Two wrestling-based fighters about to square off in a UFC co main event? Odd, certainly and most novice fight fans will run to the refrigerator when these two begin to clasp onto one another and grope, grovel and strain for fifteen full minutes.
Guida is the fighter with a vast experience advantage but at thirty-nine years old Guida’s cardio and energy remain somewhat intact but his striking is unrefined and in this bout he’s the much smaller combatant which is important in any wrestling competition.
Madsen is an Olympic silver medalist in Greco roman wrestling. He is inexperienced going 2-0 in the UFC and he’ll be giving away some striking ability to Guida which is difficult to comprehend. That said, Madsen switched camps to go train at Phoenix’s ‘Fight Ready’, a gym specializing in providing striking acumen to wrestling based fighters so he’ll be prepared to strike only long enough to get to his forte’…. grappling.
In this fight Madsen will control Guida with his size and especially when this fight falls to the floor….and it will. In Madsen’s previous UFC bouts, he has shown the ability to tire later in fights but I expect great improvement out of him in fight pace as he is a fresh, improving fighter despite his thirty-six years.
Can the cagey, game Guida keep this fight standing early when his striking may help him ward off the unrelenting Madsen or will Madsen be able to clasp on to Clay, toss him to the dirt for a grapple and control the veteran from top position for fifteen minutes?
Madsen opened -125, lean Madsen pending weigh-ins
Total for this fight: 2.5 Over 220
William Knight -200 vs. Fabio Cherant +180 Light Heavyweight (205lbs.)
Knight is a sawed-off shotgun who prefers to walk opponents down then stand and trade in toe-to-toe fashion. At 5’ 10” he’s short, compact and possesses profuse striking power in each hand. Knight’s purpose is to touch his opponent on the chin, put them to sleep then collect a check.
Cherant took his debut fight on short notice against a downright assassin in Alonso Menifield. While he was finished, he did show that he was a tough and willing. Cherant is seven years the younger fighter who has a three-inch height advantage, a three-inch reach advantage and is a southpaw fighter. It’s my judgement that Cherant has the style of striking and power to be able to compete with Knight more competitively than the current line indicates.
This line is compressing so take it now.
Total for this fight: 1.5Rds. Over -145
Enjoy the fights and Thank You for reading
updated 8-21 7:47am PT
Cannonier -130 vs. Gastelum +110
Gastelum tussles with the weight cut to 185lbs. and he’s the one getting hammered as this fight opened Gastelum + 170. Conversely, I can consider the athlete who is taller, longer, more athletic and conditioned man who opened a legitimate -200 at a price of -130?
"Price is what you pay, value is what you get"
use patience as Kelvin may continue to get steamed and the price on Cannonier could become even more attractive.
Madsen -160 vs. Guida +140
Guida is confident that his vast experience advantage will provide him an edge in this bout. Madsen’s been through the ringer this last year and a half and my feeling is that this vice grip Madsen is going to control Guida for fifteen minutes in what will be a real roll in the dirt.
Madsen via decision +140
Pichel -115 vs. Hubbard -105
Pichel’s the more refined striker, a more committed wrestler and has been in with the higher level of opponent. Hubbard’s strong, deliberate and game. This will be a tight fight.
Pantoja -170 vs. Royval +150
Royval is the quicker, faster fighter and the taller longer, younger athlete in the cage. Pantoja’s very skilled, technical and has competed with and beaten most of the elite talent in the division. Seems likely this is an elimination opportunity.
Sherman -190 vs. Porter +165
This is a heavyweight bout between a guy in Porter who can punch but hs conditioning allows for maybe four effective minutes of fury before he looks to hold, hug and mug. Sherman’s been back and forth from the UFC a couple times and his boxing background and grit give me the belief that he can measure the portly porter then put him out.
Sherman ITD +115
*released yesterday on ‘My Guys in the Desert’. I failed to include it in the early releases this AM
Knight -170 vs. Cherant +145
This is going to be a great fight. Will ‘thick’ Willie stand with Cherant or try to control him on the mat? Will Cherant be able to maintain distance and catch the raging bull as he is forcing the action? We have great line advantage from earlier in the week on this bout.
Profitable Sports Gaming